April 23, 2007

From the Detroit Free Press to the Orlando Sentinel. There, two years passed quickly. Then on to ESPN.

This is Jemele Hill, 31, Page 2 columnist at ESPN.com.

“Since I became a sports columnist, it’s like my career has been on this bullet train,” she said last week.

Last Thursday, as the second-annual Poynter Sports Summit neared its end, Hill became the first recipient of the Van McKenzie Cup, an award created to recognize a journalist who best exemplifies the traits of the innovative sports editor for whom it is named.

McKenzie died in January.

When Hill and I spoke Friday morning, she credited McKenzie, in large part, for her breakneck rise. He hired her to be a columnist in Orlando. “He believed in young talent,” Hill said.

This year marks Hill’s tenth in the business.

Click on the link at right to listen to some excerpts from our conversation.

Hill talked about her career, her relationship with McKenzie and her perspective on the role sports columnists play as social commentators.

“People want you to make sense of things,” she said, “and that’s what columnists do.”

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I'm a freelance journalist whose writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines, including The St. Petersburg Times and The New York Times Magazine.I also produce…
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